Brihadeeswara Temple

Posted on : 19-12-2015

Brihadeeswara Temple is a millennium old Saivaite temple located at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. This temple had been devoted to Lord Shiva and is worshipped as Brihadeshwarar. This temple is also known as Raja Rajeswarar Temple or Rajarajeswaram or Periya Kovil. Raja Raja Chola I, Chola king, constructed this temple in 1010 AD. Idols of Dakshinamurthy, Kubera, Yama, Indran, Varuna, Isana, Agni, Vayu and Raksasa are present here. The temple stands proud for over thousand years and is a marvelous example for a Great Living Chola Temples and this temple is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dravidian style of architecture was followed in the erection. It portrays the world about the Chola sculpture, architecture, bronze casting and painting skill. Vimanam shadow never falls on the ground which is the temple's specialty. About 60,000 tons of granite was used in the construction. In 2010 the State Government arranged Cultural events to celebrate 1000th year. 1000 dancers across the world participated and danced here. A car was erected and its trial run was made on 20.04.2015. Large number of people had seen this trial run. On 29.04.2015 Maidan procession of the car took place. The car carried the deities and it was the first procession happened in 100 years. Annual festival of this temple is grandly celebrated on May. The temple remains open from 6:00 AM – 8:30 PM. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is administering this temple. Thanjavur Palace, Saraswati Mahal Library, Siva Ganga Garden and Schwartz Church are the nearby attractions found near this temple.


During 1002 CE foundation stone for the construction was laid by Rajaraja Chola I. Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Rama Perunthachan was the engineer and architect of the temple. The temple had been erected according to the Agamas and Vaastu Shastra rules. Raja Raja Chola I had consecrated this temple in 1010 AD. A big sacred bull (Nandi) at the temple had been carved out of single granite and its height, width and length are about 2 m, 2.5 m and 6 m respectively. The height of the vimanam is about 100 feet. Single granite block was carved as Kumbam and it weighs about 80 tons. Presiding deity is a tall lingam which measures about 3.7 m. 108 dance Karanas (Bharathanatyam poses) were carved on the outer wall. The outer precincts measures about 240 m and 125 m. During 13th century Pandyas added the Goddess shrine. Vijayanagara and Maratha Kings constructed Subramanya Shrine and Vinayakar shrine respectively. Thanjavur Nayaks too constructed valuable additions here. Moat is found on the outer precinct of the temple complex. Murals at this temple are prominent. A white elephant carrying a devotee to heaven, lord Shiva’s dancing and destructing the demons are some of the prominent murals. About 400 years ago Tanjore Nayaks replaced the damaged murals. During Chola regime about 1000 people were employed at this temple as Priests, musicians, record keepers, craftsman, etc.

In Popular Culture

On 01.04.1954 Reserve Bank of India released Rs. 1000 coin having the image of this temple. India Post had also released a stamp having the image of Raja Gopuram.

Geographical position of Brihadeeswara Temple:

Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur is located at 10.782815, 79.131825 or 10°46'58.1"N 79°07'54.6"E.